Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Institute on Family and Community Life

Committee Member

Arelis Moore de Peralta, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Bonnie Holaday

Committee Member

James McDonell

Committee Member

Martie Thompson


Every woman has the right to safe motherhood. Over half of the global maternal deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. In Guinea, where this study took place, a woman has a one-in-26 chance of dying in childbirth, compared to a one-in-1,400 in a developed nation. Thus, the purpose of this study was to identify the characteristics and the role of cultural beliefs and practices on a woman's birth process (conception to post-partum) among the Fulani in the Labé district of the Fouta Djallon region in Guinea using qualitative and participatory methods and collaborating with those most impacted by this issue, the women and their birth attendants. Three main themes were identified in the analysis process: maternal culture are, maternal care seeking, and miscommunication. An increased understanding of the role culture plays in birth and care choice for Fulani women could provide insight into more targeted and collaborative support and interventions for pregnant and post-partum women in the region and to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. Further research should focus on a three pronged approach of 1) use of culturally congruent communication models, 2) professional development for birth attendants and community health workers, and 3) inclusion of cultural knowledge and participatory approaches.

Keywords: culture, birth process, Guinea, Fouta Djallon, Labé, participatory, ethnography



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